March 2013

Volume 29, Issue 3

The FireStarter

A Word from Our Co-op Manager on GMO Food

~by Alice Simon

GMO information is everywhere these days. Here at the Co-op it is mentioned and discussed all the time.

Recently some members have expressed concern that the Co-op stocks products produced by companies whose parent companies contributed large amounts of money to defeat Prop 37 in California. (which was the California ballot initiative to require GMO labeling.) We have discussed and debated this extensively.

Many of the products are mainstays and staples for our clientele. Are there alternatives? Yes there are, in many cases; however, the problem is that the alternatives are more expensive--frequently a lot more expensive.

Would anyone buy these more costly items? We have experimented from time to time with some of these items, and sales were extremely slow--perhaps due to price and lack of brand recognition.

At this point we are supporting the "Label It WA" ballot initiative here in Washington. The petitions were on our front counter for many weeks. All petitions collected state­wide were submitted to the legislature as enough petition signatures were collected. The power of consumer pressure upon the legislative bodies cannot be underestimated.

Going forward we will continue to bring in some of the alternative products and will monitor the sales response. We urge you, the consumer, to write to state and federal officials. Join the campaign for "Label It WA" and help Washington lead the nation!

And Now for Some Good News

from the The Huffington Post

Whole Foods has announced that by 2018 all products in U.S. and Canada stores must be labeled if they contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). This is the first national grocery store to set a deadline for GMO labeling.

“We are putting a stake in the ground on GMO labeling to support the consumer’s right to know,” said Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, in a press release. “The prevalence of GMOs in the U.S. paired with non­existent mandatory labeling makes it very difficult for retailers to source non-GMO options and for consumers to choose non-GMO products. Accordingly, we are stepping up our support of certified organic agriculture, where GMOs are not allowed, and we are working together with our supplier partners to grow our non-GMO supply chain to ensure we can continue to provide these choices in the future.”

Genetically modified organisms have been manipulated through genetic engineering (GE) by introducing changes into DNA structure. This announcement comes at a time where interest in GMO labeling is at an all-time high. During the November election, a mandatory GMO labeling initiative--Prop 37--was introduced in California. Millions of dollars poured in from various corporations such as Monsanto and PepsiCo against the ballot measure, which was ultimately defeated.

A recent poll by The Huffington Post, in partnership with YouGov, found that a huge majority--82 percent--of Americans want labels for GMO food. Gary Hirshberg, the CEO of Stonyfield Yogurt and the chairman and founding partner of the Just Label It campaign, has been a vocal proponent of the move to label GMO foods. In a recent blog for The Huffington Post he explains, “Our government’s failure to require labeling, and to be engaged in developing the science supporting GE food risk assessment, is an absolute breach of its responsibility to the American public.”

There are lots of reasons to label these foods: health and environmental concerns, ethical/religious views, or just because people want to know. In fact, Mellman research shows 92 percent of citizens want the right to know, with no meaningful statistical difference between men and women, Republicans and Democrats, urban and rural communities, education level, or any demographic.

The bottom line is this: without labeling, consumers are completely in the dark. The FDA can label GE foods. And the vast majority of consumers want them to be labeled. Not everyone agrees with Hirshberg, though. Recently, a former activist for non-GMO food switched his stance and no longer advocates against genetically modified food.

Whole Foods has been selling non-GMO foods for years, though--any certified organic food cannot be made using GMO crops, for example. The company will continue to makes announcements about progress between now and the 2018 deadline.

Member Appreciation Day is the 3rd Tuesday of each month.
Members may bulk-order from the UNFI Catalog at 15% above wholesale.

Mark Lynas: GMO Convert? Or Hired Gun?

from the Organic Consumer's Association

On January 3rd Mark Lynas, British author of several books on global warming including Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet, told a sold-out audience at the Oxford Farming Conference in Oxford, England, that he was sorry. Sorry that he’d maligned genetically modified (GM) crops. Sorry that he’d “helped to start the anti-GM movement.” Sorry that he “demonized” a technology that could be used to “benefit the environment.”

That’s right. An expert on global warming was now telling the world that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and GM crops, with their billions of tons of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, with their large-scale monocultures that leave food crops vulnerable to drought, pests and disease, are good for the environment.

How did a journalist, well-known for his work on climate change, become an impassioned advocate and spokesperson for the biotech industry? And an instant media star in the process? Is Lynas just a slick self-promoter willing to say anything for attention? Or did he sell his soul to the biotech industry?

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Editors and store management will review all submissions to determine suitability for publication.

Victory for Food Workers in Seattle! Thank You!

from the Organic Consumer's Association

It just goes to show you what a little solidarity can accomplish. When United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI), the nation’s largest wholesale distributor of organic foods, treated workers badly the organic community circled the wagons.

Under pressure from organic consumers, food co-ops, and fair trade and food activists, UNFI settled a bitter two-month strike with union members, agreeing to reinstate 72 fired workers and raise workers’ pay by 17.75 percent over five years.

Thanks to everyone--from those of you who signed petitions or boycotted UNFI private-label products, to the food co-ops that stood up to the giant wholesaler--for your solidarity in demanding fair wages and decent working conditions for the people who grow, harvest, pack, and deliver our food.

Natural Seal hits 1,200th certification--up 50 percent in just the last year!

from the Natural Products Association

The "Natural Seal Program" led by the Natural Products Association (NPA), has hit a new milestone with the 1,200th certification of natural products and ingredients, according to data released today by NPA. The first and only natural certification in the United States, the Natural Seal helps millions of Americans identify personal care and home care products that are truly natural.

Certified manufacturers can use the Natural Seal on their labels. Get a list of natural products and ingredients at

See more NPA news items at

Look for the SALES throughout the Co-op, displayed with white shelf tags below the items.

Members receive special discounts on these products.

Some are one-time deals, some are monthly sales, and others are introductory promotions.
Price tags show member prices and non-member prices, with the sales being for our Co-op Members only.

Green DIY Cleaning Products

-from 50 Simple Things You Can Do To Save the Earth

Spring is upon us, and so is the time for Spring Cleaning--usually quite necessary after living indoors all winter long. Just as we want our foods to be pure, containing no harmful chemicals, it's equally important what we use to clean our homes is free of chemicals. Below is a partial list of some alternatives to commercial cleaning products.

Tile and Porcelain
Keep your bathroom and kitchen tile clean with these natural cleansers:
Baking Soda and Water: Dust surfaces with baking soda, then scrub with a moist sponge or cloth. If you have tougher cleaning needs, sprinkle on some coarse salt, and scrub. Lemon Juice or Vinegar: Gets stains, mildew and grease streaks. Spray or douse with lemon juice or vinegar. Let sit a few minutes and scrub with a stiff brush.
Disinfectant: Instead of bleach, make your own disinfectant by mixing 2 cups of water, 3 tablespoons of liquid soap and 20 to 30 drops of tea tree oil.

Kitchen Counters
The room where food is prepared, stored and often enjoyed requires constant vigilance. Splatters, spills and wayward crumbs can build up and collect out of sight, encouraging harmful bacteria.
Baking Soda and Water: Reclaim counters by sprinkling with baking soda, then scrubbing with a damp cloth or sponge. If you have stains, knead the baking soda and water into a paste and let set for a while before you remove. This method also works well for stainless steel sinks, cutting boards, containers, refrigerators, oven tops and more.
Coarse Salt and Water: If you need a tougher abra­sive sprinkle on coarse salt, and scrub with a wet cloth or sponge.
Natural Disinfectant: To knock out bacteria without strong chemicals, mix 2 cups water, 3 tablespoons liquid soap and 20 - 30 drops of tea tree oil. Spray or rub on countertops and other kitchen surfaces.

Windows and Mirrors
Instead of commercial, toxic sprays, try this highly effective, simple solution for windows and mirrors:
White Vinegar, Water and Newspaper: Mix 2 tablespoons of white vinegar with a gallon of water, and dispense into a used spray bottle. Squirt on, scrub with newspaper, (not paper towels, which cause streaking).
(Substitute undiluted lemon juice or club soda if you don’t like the smell of vinegar.)

Carpet and Rugs
Club soda works well on carpet stains, but you have to attack the mess right away. Lift off any solids, and then liberally pour on club soda. Blot with an old rag. The soda's carbonation brings the spill to the surface, and the salts in the soda deter staining.
Cornmeal: For big spills, dump cornmeal on the mess, wait 5 to 15 minutes, and vacuum.
Spot Cleaner: Make your own by mixing: ¼ cup liquid soap or detergent in a blender, with 1/3-cup water. Mix until foamy. Spray on, then rinse with vinegar.
To Deodorize: Sprinkle baking soda or cornstarch on the carpet or rug, using about 1 cup per medium-sized room. Vacuum after 30 minutes.

Wood Floors
Hardwood floors are beautiful, hygienic and long lasting. They are easy to vacuum, but don't do well with wet mopping. So how do you restore their natural glow without roughing them up?
Vinegar: Premix a solution of 1/4 cup white vinegar and 30 ounces of warm water. Put in a recycled spray bottle, then spray on a cotton rag or towel until lightly damp. Then mop your floors, scrubbing any grime.

Safer Oven Cleaning
Conventional oven cleaning chemicals are loaded with toxic ingredients, including ethers, ethylene glycol, lye and petroleum distillates, among others. The products are harmful to skin and eyes, and the fumes are unhealthy.
Baking Soda and Water: Coat the inside of your dirty appliance with a paste made from water and baking soda. Let stand overnight. Then, don gloves and scour off that grime.

Clogged Drains
A stopped up sink or tub is a real hassle, but pouring toxic chemicals like Drano on them isn't so wise. Not only will that pollute our waterways, but the products can cause chemical burns and are highly dangerous if ingested. Do you really want that in your home?
Baking Soda and Boiling Water: Pour 1/2 cup of baking soda into the problem drain, followed by 2 cups of boiling water. If that isn't doing it for you, chase the baking soda with a 1/2-cup of vinegar and cover tightly, allowing the vigorous fizzing of the chemical reaction to break up the gunk. Then flush that with one gallon of boiling water.

The Co-op has recently expanded our line of Clean Well natural cleaning products
including their handy Botanical Disinfecting Wipes, which make cleaning chores a simple task.
And they’re very reasonably priced!

Monsanto’s Roundup: Even Worse than We Thought

It’s bad enough that regulatory agencies continue to allow tons of Monsanto’s herbicide, Roundup, to be sprayed on food crops, despite evidence that the herbicide’s key ingredient, glyphosate, causes birth defects, endocrine disruption, and a host of other health problems.

Now a new study says the most widely used herbicide in the world is even more toxic than we thought. The reason? Roundup contains “confidential” - and unlabeled - ingredients that affect all living cells, including human cells, according to a new study in the scientific journal, Toxicology.

Turns out that industry regulators and long-term studies look at glyphosate in isolation, instead of looking at Roundup’s full formulation, which includes the secret added ingredients.

In 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released figures showing that at least 208 million tons of Roundup had been used on GE crops, lawns and roadsides in the years 2006 and 2007. It’s safe to assume that number is much higher now. Hundreds of millions of tons of poison, containing unlabeled “secret” toxic ingredients.

When will it stop?

Co-op Board of Directors meets at the Community Cultural Center on the first Tuesday of each month, beginning at 5:30pm (subject to change)

Member Email List--Do We Have the Right Addy for YOU?

-by Patrice, Coop Webmonkey

We are updating our Member Email List. If you are a Life Member, or an Active (current with your dues) Member and did not get a test email in February, it means we have no email addy for you, or an incorrect one (are you still at televar or yahoo? hrmmm.)

We don't spam our members, mind you...messages are pretty short and low-key/low-tech...notice of an Annual or Special Membership Meeting, a Co-op benefit once or twice a year, monthly notice that there's a new newsletter online with a link to it, and maybe we'll start sending the occasional notice of Sale Items. That's not big inbox clutter--and, of course, we never sell, rent, or loan out our list to anyone else!

Most of what we email gets put on our page, and some people prefer to just follow us there. But if you don't keep up with your Fb Newsfeed everyday you could miss an announcement....

So if you are a Life or Active Member and want to get on the list (or back on the list), send your name and email address to (web at


The Co-op News is edited by Claire Jeffko and River Jones,
and published as a service to the members of the Tonasket Natural Foods Co-op.

Letters and articles are welcome from members.
Please email your submission for consideration to us at .

Views expressed in The FireStarter are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of the Co-op management, directors, or membership. Acceptance of advertising does not indicate endorsement by the Co-op of the produce/ service offered.